Educators Named CMA Foundation Music Teachers of Excellence

Four teachers smile
  • Published May 23, 2023

    Four WCS music educators are among the 2023 Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation's Music Teachers of Excellence.

    Only 30 music teachers from across the country are recognized for this honor. This is the second consecutive year that Edmondson Elementary music teacher Elaina Gallas has received this designation.

    "Being selected as a Music Teacher of Excellence two years in a row has been one of my proudest achievements," said Gallas. "As a music teacher, I take great joy in teaching the whole student. Music opens the doors for lessons on history, math, reading, science, social and emotional intelligence and more. I'm so thankful to the CMA Foundation for recognizing the difference music makes in our students' education."

    Spring Station Middle music teacher Ashley Harris is also a Music Teacher of Excellence. The application process for the award is extensive and requires applicants to submit teaching videos, professional references and community service work. The honorees are selected based on their dedication to bringing high-quality music education to their students and the impact they've had on their school community.

    "If you were to walk into my classroom, you would find a teacher who loves her career," said Harris. "Music teachers are in a profession that nurtures the masses. We must teach students regardless of ability or background and encourage them to find success. These children are not just my students; they are my hopes and dreams for the future. They are my worries and my fears. They are my family."

    As Music Teachers of Excellence, Franklin High assistant band director Briana Vogt, along with the other 29 honorees, will receive a total of $150,000 split among all winners. Half of each teacher's investment will go toward classroom needs, and the other half will support personal expenses. 

    "This recognition from the CMA Foundation grants our band program much-needed funding that will help our students receive the education they deserve," said Vogt. "Music is an academic subject in which multiple disciplines are represented. To walk into a music classroom is to find a microcosm of the school. It's a sanctuary where the athlete and the mathlete can find common ground in working diligently to achieve the same goal. Making music brings about the best of all of us and allows for everyone, including those without a voice, to be heard."

    Ravenwood High choir director Rose Hellmers and the other WCS Music Teachers of Excellence will be honored at a night of celebration and recognition during the annual ceremony on Tuesday, September 19.

    "I am a music teacher because I love developing in all my students a lifelong love for making music, for themselves and for their world," said Hellmers. "I have seen firsthand the positive impact that high-quality music instruction can have on students and their communities and love to facilitate that experience for others. Music education is important because it has this special power to unite people in a common goal of adding beauty and goodness to a world that desperately needs it."